A new mentorship program at Carle Health gives Carle Illinois College of Medicine students early access to a professional guide as they navigate the challenges of medical school.

The Carle Ambassadors Program matches first-year medical students with faculty to mentor them as they learn about Carle’s clinical, educational, and research missions.

The 47 new medical students who started this summer at Carle Illinois is the first class to participate in the program, providing them greater opportunities for clinical research, shadowing, and career advising. While the Ambassador’s program is just beginning, one Carle Illinois student has already realized the advantages the Ambassadors’ program offers.

Lidija Barbaric, medical student, Carle Illinois College of Medicine
Lidija Barbaric, medical student, Carle Illinois College of Medicine

Lidija Barbarić, a fourth-year medical student, found a mentor in Dr. Apryl Martin, a pediatric anesthesiologist and one of the new Carle Ambassadors.

While completing her anesthesia rotation, Barbarić became interested in doing a pediatric anesthesia rotation, but that elective didn’t exist. She approached Dr. Martin about creating one. “She was gung-ho about helping me build this rotation. She was extremely proactive about helping to make the rotation happen and make it an exceptional clinical learning experience,” Barbarić said.

Working with Dr. Martin on the rotation, Barbarić learned from an experienced clinician, got early exposure to the specialty to better gauge whether she wants to pursue that field, and grew more confident as a medical student.

“She gives you a wealth of information and wisdom and does all this while running around taking care of sick children,” Barbarić said.

Apryl Martin, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Apryl Martin, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

For Dr. Martin, the love of mentoring grew out of an appreciation for the mentorship she’s received throughout her own life. “Mentoring is such an essential component to personal growth. And a mentor doesn’t have to look anything like you, be the same sex, or even be in the same career,” Martin explained.

Barbarić is excited to see more students benefit from the expertise and guidance of the high-quality physicians at Carle Illinois.“You need someone to ask all the questions that aren’t going to be addressed in your lectures or books – how to deal with death and dying, how to deal with communications when an issue comes up,” Barbarić said. “I’m confident at Carle, the students are going to find that, because I’ve found that in Dr. Martin and the other physicians as well.”

The first group of Carle Ambassadors includes the following physicians on the Carle Illinois faculty, pictured above:

Apryl Martin, Robert Healy, Clifford Johnson, Juan Jimenez, Warren McCauley, Mehmoodur Rasheed, Kevin Teal, Naveed Adoni, and Tabatha Wells.